Friday, October 31, 2014

Shades of Purple

This year's wedding season is drawing to a close. The big color (again) this year was purple followed closely by dark blue.  So here's a look back at the color schemes that were chosen by a few of my brides to compliment purple.  First up is a purple/lavender/pink combination.  The wedding was outside at the lovely Whitehall Manor in Bluemont, VA.  Photos courtesy of StephanieLeighPhotography

Purple stock, pink spray roses, dark purple mini calla lilies, cream roses for the bride and similar bouquets for her attendants.

The Groom: 

The table centerpieces continued the color scheme inside for the reception on grey table linens.   

Another wedding was less formal and occurred at a gorgeous private residence in Winchester.  The attendants were all wearing various shades of purple dresses so the bouquets were a mix of purples and lavenders, very wildflower feeling.  Pop of yellow to break up the purple.  Bouquet features freesia, fresh lavender, globe amaranth, veronica, trachelium, stock, fresh wheat and a person favorite-ageratum. Photo by Me

Image courtesy of SamStroudPhotography:

The flower girl halo being modeled by my daughter, italian ruscus, plumosa and fresh lavender; 
 photography by me. 

Another completely different, bold color scheme to compliment deep purple/aubergine dresses.  The bride's bouquet featured dark purple hydrangea, purple lisianthus, purple stock, ageratum, lavender alstroemeria, 'Orange Unique' roses, and orange lilies. Photography by me.  

Submerged orange mokara orchids gave simple but bold color to the reception tables at the Holiday Inn Blue Ridge Shadows.  

If you prefer traditional, high contrast, or wildflowers; many choices are available to you year round with a purple color scheme. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wedding May 2014; Capon Springs Resort

I work with many brides who are not local. Some of whom I never physically meet!  With all the various means of communication today, face-to-face consultations are happening less and less.  This is one of the weddings where I did most of the communication via phone and email, pinterest boards, picture swapping in emails and the final day everything was gorgeous.  Wedding location was the secluded and serene Capon Springs Resort, Capon Springs WV.  It always reminds me of the resort from the movie "Dirty Dancing".

The Bride's bouquet; Hydrangea, lisianthus, sweet peas, dusty miller. Very soft and romantic.  

The wedding party.

The ceremony at the Music Pavilion:
The bride picked out her own clear hobnail jars that I filled with simple bouquets of hydrangea and seeded eucalyptus.

The reception was at the Sunset Lodge which overlooks the resort's golf course.  It is a huge outdoor space that is sheltered and features stone fireplaces.

I love when a bride personalizes her wedding with hand picked containers.  In this wedding, silver candle holders with glass hurricanes accented with seeded eucalptus, milkglass containers and compotes filled with hydrangea, lisianthus, and other assorted flowers.

The cake decor was a challenge actually.  Seeded eucalyptus stems are too heavy to individually place stems on cake layers.  So I hand wired the leaves and accents of fresh lavender for a light weight accent to be placed on the cake layers instead of inserted into the layers.

all photos courtesy of Ash Imagery, all flowers designed by Flowers by Snellings, Capon Springs Resort, May 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Blogging Tuesday Sept 16th!

Head over to for our guest blog post about wedding flowers!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

7 Things About Flowers You Need To Know

1. Fresh flowers have a shelf life. Somewhere between 3-7 days depending on the type of flower. it can be longer.   It depends on where the flower had to travel from before it got to your home.  Columbia? Holland? Canada? Russia?  Once you cut a flower from the plant it's technically "dead", we are just prolonging how long that dying process takes.  Farm > plane to US > Customs > Shipping via plane or truck (or both) to wholesaler somewhere in US > Retail florist > your house. That's alot of travel.

2. Fresh cut flowers do not like direct sunlight.  Again, you have a product that no longer needs the sun's rays to blossom, placing them in direct sunlight will only bake them.

3. Fresh cut flowers do not like extreme cold (below 40 F) or high heat/humidity (above 70-75 F).  Water freezes at  32 F degrees.  Flowers are made up of mostly water and plant cells.  If you need to store them in a refrigerator,  turn the knob to the warmest setting which will keep things cool without freezing them.  
    I once had a client mention in a conversation after their event that by the end of the afternoon the vase arrangements "looked wilty". The event was outdoors, in August, in the afternoon under a tent with no ventilation.   It was 95 degrees plus humidity making the heat index around 99-100 F.  I  was wilty after about 20 minutes of setting up the outdoor event.

4. The back of the UPS/FedEX truck is NOT temperature controlled.  Our delivery vans are.  Keep that in mind when shopping those "online deals" with "same day delivery" through 800-companies.  Our UPS driver told me on a hot summer day the back of his truck hits above 110F easy.  Those companies suck you in on the deal and don't really care what the end product looks like after traveling in the back of truck all day.  We do.

5. Fresh cut flowers like fresh water.  Clean fresh tap water is just fine.   Changing the water every day to every other day is a great way to keep your flowers looking great.   My pet peeve as a floral designer is whenever I am out somewhere and see a vase of flowers where the water is cloudy.  I know it's been several days at that point and the flowers benefit so much from fresh water.  You wouldn't want to drink out of your juice glass that's been sitting there for 3 days right?  Same for fresh flowers.

6.  There is no such thing as "funeral looking flowers".  We have no idea what you mean when you say that over the phone.  Yes, there are flowers that are used in greater frequency in sympathy design but are also used in other areas of floral design as well.  And everyone has a different interpretation of what "funeral looking" means.  For most people, it just depends on what the predominant flower at a funeral that they attended was, thus cementing  the connection between that particular flower and funerals.    

7. "In season" rarely means "cheap".  It may mean "cheaper than the off season" but what it really means is "available during it's natural growing season".   Before mass flower production, tulips and iris were only available in spring, sunflowers in summer, and chrysanthemums in fall.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Smartphone vs. Professional Photography

What is the difference between each set of  pictures of the same arrangement?  A professional camera vs a smartphone. It makes an incredible difference.   Not only for special events, but for online ordering as well.  In real life/3D your own eyes capture everything, but the quality of a photo is a huge factor when judging flower arrangements for quality of design. (Julie Napear Photography, Swadley Studios, & Moxie Photos respectively)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Garden Progression UPDATED 5/17/17

Fresh Cut flowers are vastly different from garden flowers of similar varieties.  Fresh cut flowers are commercially grown specifically to last once cut from the stem.  They are bred for longevity, color range, bloom size and lastly, scent.  Therefore, because I spend most days arranging and manipulating blooms I am not the best person to ask on plant care.  This even extends to my personal ability to grow and maintain plants at home.  So far my dracaena plant is managing, mainly due to it's own hardiness(thank goodness)  I have mixed results with my succulents.  These are supposed to be the easiest to maintain as they need little water and lots of light.  Well I either forget to check them for water entirely and they start drying out, then I remember to water, then I over water! I had them in a sunny spot and evidently it was TOO sunny. And any stink bug in the vicinity takes up residence on the underside of the leaves. (blech)  The only plants I seem to have any luck with is outdoor perennials...mainly because they are low maintenance and all I seem to have to do is turn on the sprinkler every night. 
(2012) after we had just installed the flower bed and mulch, transplanted my flowers from my previous house. This Included some very special plants.

 May 5 2013:

Big difference!  Most of the flowers were either plants from my late grandmother's (iris) and Mother's house (lilies, peonies) the newer additions were from the local nursery Weber's on Rt 11. 
I'll update later with another picture, my yarrow has taken off and is in full bloom. 
I won't be posting pictures of my houseplants...unless I start seeing some improvement! :)

 July 2014:
And the outdoor hibiscus plant I've named "Seymour" from last year (7/15/13):
to this year (7/14/2014) :
The hibiscus plant has a sentimental value to me.  Growing up I had only known of the indoor variety of Hibiscus. My mother had a few, one of which was a memorial gift from my Grandfather's funeral.  Every year she would (and still does) cart them outside in their massive pots during the summer and brings them indoors every fall to winter over inside.  I have always loved the blooms.  When I saw this outdoor perennial variety two years ago I was ecstatic I would be able to grow it outside.  It completely dies back to the ground every fall/winter and then green shoots start sprouting in May.  I nicknamed it "Seymour" due to the fact it's a little tricky to stake.  If you let it go too long before you stake, it goes every which way it can spread.  This year I staked it once, then had to go back and add more fencing around the top because it had literally busted the fencing surrounding it. It is now approx 6'+ tall and loaded with blooms.  Today was the first day of the blooms and the big palm sized red blossoms always make me smile and feel a little bit accomplished. 

May 2015:  
Somehow another plant invaded my garden in between the Black-Eye Susans.  I removed the huge space invader later that summer after I determined it was not something I wanted. 

May 2016:
In the front bottom left are Black Eye Susans, the fuschia colored blooms are my grandmother's peonies (transplanted 4x!)  Behind is my torch plant from my Aunt Marian, adjacent are various Iris from my mother, my grandmother and my neighbor.  The yarrow are blooming in the front right and we planted marigolds in the hope to deter the deer who frequent our yard. 

Today, May 19th, 2017 


Peonies, Iris and Yarrow are all in bloom! I haven't had time yet this spring to mulch or finish planting my marigolds but it will just have to keep for now.  The Black Eye Susans are now overtaking their space so this year I will be thinning them out.  The phlox has also invaded the Japanese Maple's curtain so that is another issue for this year's to do list.  I have been slack in watering this week- eek! With the sudden weather change it's time to dust off the sprinkler and soaker hoses.   Overall a big difference in 5 years time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Q & A with a florist

I thought I would answer a few questions for something different for a Blog post- if you have questions for me that you don't see here- message me and I'll be happy to answer them on another post!

Q:  How early did you start in the floral industry?

A:  I started taking Floral Design classes my sophomore year in High School in Westerville, Ohio.  I was extremely lucky that my high school had an extensive horticulture program.

Q: What did your family think of your choice in taking design classes?

A: My dad actually thought I should take Home Ec instead because he thought I would need cooking classes more than flower arranging classes when I graduated. (The joke's on him as he now is the owner of our flower shop!)

Q: How many flower shops have you worked at before managing your own?

A:   5. Technically 6 if you count working for the previous owner of Snellings before my family purchased the business in 2003.

Q: What was the hardest shop to work for?

A: I worked for a company in Columbus that was one of many shops in the city owned by one huge corporation, Gerald Stevens (some of the old Blockbuster Video CEO's).  At that shop it was all about production numbers.  I worked some holidays for 14 days straight 12+ hour days.  The design room was a long cement block room with 2 tiny windows and about 20 designers. When the electric went out one winter during the work day, I complained it was getting cold, one of the managers told me, " work faster and you'll stay warm".  He was a real peach.

Q: What do you enjoy designing the most?

A: It's a tie between weddings and sympathy work.  Weddings are always custom made, always different from one another and face paced.  They are also stressful!  I want everything to be absolutely perfect for the bride when it comes to her flowers. I do enjoy the planning and coordination it takes to go from the original bouquet idea in my head and make it real.   Sympathy work, when it's larger custom pieces, always make me feel a great sense of accomplishment.  Translating someone's emotions into flowers to dedicate to a loved one is very rewarding.

Q: Why do you dislike dyed flowers?

A: With so many beautiful flowers that come in so many various colors I really don't grasp the point of dyeing them to match like a paint chip.  And I don't find dyed "blue" roses all.

Q: What type of arrangement do you dislike?

A: Anything that resembles a cake or poodle.  Flowers are too pretty to cut them off and make them into "birthday cake" shapes.  Just a personal opinion.

Q: What's the most difficult part of your job in today's industry?

A: Social Media and Internet Management.  Most people do not know how much time it takes to resize and upload images, format categories, add links, update status, keep posts interesting and engaging, price and adjust product descriptions, ...the list goes on and on.  The floral industry has changed so much over the years and to stay relevant the internet is a big factor in day to day business.  Running a flower shop is so much more than just "playing with flowers" all day. 

Q: What is something most people don't know about florists?

A: That sometimes we cry right along with a family that comes in after losing a loved one to place their funeral order.  Young kids and children are the hardest to design for because it never seems quite fair when a young life is cut short.  Even though we deal with funerals and grief on a daily basis, and they are always sad, it drives home how short life is and how precious the time is you spend with your children and loved ones.  So on those days I go home and hug my kids just a little harder. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Insanity of Proms on Mother's Day Weekend

Prom should never be scheduled on the same weekend as Mother's Day for the following reasons:

1.) It's MOTHER'S DAY.  It should about Mom, not about Mom running her butt off to get son/daughter ready for prom.

2.) See #1, and, if son/daughter is out really late Saturday night, they will not be getting up early to spend the day with Mom.

3.) again with #1, if son/daughter is involved in a car accident, Mom may be getting the worst phone call of her life at 2am.

4.) Mother's day is the Number #1 holiday for many retailers- Florists especially.  Not everyone has a lover, but everyone has a Mother. Whether still among the living or deceased, they are recognized with flowers. Many people take their mothers out for dinner that weekend.  I, along with other area florists had to stop taking prom orders last year- literally turning away money because we physically can't design that many orders. Corsages and boutonnieres take twice as long to make as a standard arrangement.  How many area kids went to prom without flowers? How sad for them! How many couldn't get a dinner reservation? Again, very disappointing.   And if you're wondering why we don't work later, we do.  My design team were here very late Thursday and Friday. It was after midnight when I got home Thursday night.   We can't work 24 hours around the clock. Sorry, but we can't. We need food and sleep to function too.

5.) If the students going to prom attend different schools and both proms are scheduled for the same night- that makes attending both proms very difficult.

6.) I really don't need any more reasons, the above 5 are all very good reasons.  Hopefully the schools will plan accordingly for next year. This florist, along with the other florists in this town, and parents would really appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why choose a professional floral designer?....

Why you should use a professional florist for your wedding or special event:

We are professionals.  We design flowers every day, all day, for many occasions.  This is not a “hobby” for us.  We have spent years in college or other floral design programs, and also have industry accreditations that back up our expertise in floral design.  (see, the American Institute of Floral Designers)
  1. We know the inside scoop on flower growing conditions/availability.   We talk to our suppliers on a daily basis.  Emails, Texts, Phone conversations.  We will know when a particular flower is not available due to drought, flooding, insects, crop problems, etc.  and are able to plan accordingly.We also know how long it will take to get this:
     to look like this: 
  2. You want to know the person designing your flowers has done this before.   A professional floral designer has designed numerous wedding bouquets, centerpieces; in every imaginable color scheme and style. 
  3. Designing flowers is time consuming and labor intensive.  The industry average from start to finish for a small arrangement is 15-20 minutes.  Imagine the complexity of a bridal bouquet.  Now you are talking 30-60 minutes depending on style and flowers.  This is for a professional to design it.  If you plan on DIY, double those numbers.  Then add all the centerpieces, bouquets, corsages, etc into the time total and you may be looking at 1-2 days of designing.  Do you have that kind of time prior to your wedding day? Probably not.  Professionals know how to schedule their work load to accommodate designing multiple weddings, adding staff and working extended hours to make sure everything is ready for you special day.  
  4. We will tell you Silk a.k.a. Permanent Botanicals will cost the same or more than their fresh counterparts.   Why? If you want realistic looking flowers, that will photograph well, than you will want top quality silk flowers.  The cheaper the flower, the cheaper it will look in your pictures.   We beg you to not go to the big-retailer-who-will-not-be-named and purchase cheap discount silks for your wedding day. 
  5. We know about budgets.  We do.  We want to give you the best possible wedding within a budget you are comfortable with.   We are here to make your life easier, not more stressful.
We really, really want you to be a repeat customer and refer us to your friends & family.  That is why every wedding is so important to us.  We see the big picture beyond the wedding day.  Your best friend’s wedding, your first anniversary, your first child, flowers for your table at the holidays.   Your decision to trust us to deliver beautiful flowers is our number one priority

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Those special little packets we give you....

The floral preservative packets that we enclose with your arrangement are just one more step to ensuring that your flowers last a long time for you. 
In these packets is a chemical mixture of a bacteria/fungicide, food for the flowers, and an acidifier/clarifier for the water.  The more acidic or "wetter" the water the better for your flowers.  The fungicide keeps mold/fungus at bay while the food is absorbed by the flowers.

What makes the preservative unique is the fact that it is a precise combination of those 3 components that work together. 

Sometimes people think that they can make their "own" floral preservative out of odd things like bleach, sprite, sugar, aspirin, and even copper pennies.  These things do not work and can even harm your flowers.  If you put just bleach in the water, the flowers receive no food.  Just sugar- say hello to funky chunky water (-yuck!-)

Another important step is mixing the packet with the correct amount of water- 1 pint of fresh clean water with 1 packet of floral preservative.  No more, no less. 
What to do when after the first water change and you no longer have a packet? 

Change the water COMPLETELY every day.  It's really that simple.  Fresh clean water everyday will prevent mold/mildew from taking over the water which is one of the most significant problems people encounter with fresh flowers.  I can't tell you how many of my friends homes I've been to where the vase was half full of cloudy, dirty water.  Do you want to drink the water if it looked like that? Trust me, the flowers don't either.

 Stems should be recut with a sharp pair of gardening pruners or a sharp knife.   Not household scissors or smashed by a hammer (another old wives tale).  A clean sharp cut will reopen the stem to uptake the new water. 

Follow these steps and I'm sure you will see significant improvement in how long your flowers last!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Gambling for the Holidays

Ordering and preparing for a busy holiday is a lot like gambling.  Especially when dealing with fresh perishable product.  Florists have to look at previous years sales, economic growth, weather forecasts, sales trends for the year to date. When we look at all of those factors we then have to "guess" how much to order.  We don't want to run out of flowers too early.  We don't want to be stuck with red roses after Valentines day. 

Trying to figure out how many bunches of a particular flower to order is time consuming and stressful.   How many arrangements with lilies did we sell last year?  How many do we think we will sell this year?  What is the cut off date from our suppliers to get the best price?  The longer you wait to order the higher the price. 

Most flowers are sold by the bunch.  Each bunch is either a 10 stem bunch, a 5-7 stem bunch, or sold by weight with various stem counts. Baby's breath and other "filler flowers" are often sold by weight.  Sometimes it comes with 5 stems with huge clusters of blossoms, other times it comes with up to 15 stems of sparse clusters of flowers.  It is weighed using the Metric system which is even more complicated when trying to convert on an American measuring scale.  Why weigh it?  To sell at a more reasonable price. 

Another factor is how the product has been arriving so far this year.  Maybe there has been too much rain in South America and the gerberas have not been coming in as nice.  Do you cut back?  Do you delete it from your order?

Which supplier do you order from?  Company A is selling carnations slightly cheaper than Company B.  But Company B's product has been consistently good from their growers all year long.  Do you save money with A or go with the consistency of B?

After all of this planning and gambling, I don't know if I've done a good job until after the holiday is over.  And by then, it's too late to adjust or make changes, you're left with the choices you made.  Much like choosing a horse on Derby day, you don't know if you picked a winner until the race is over.